Chicago has given us many things over the
years. Awesome pizza. Billy Corgan. The Cubs, who will always do worse
than the Reds. And each winter a chance to look at the weather report
and not feel quite as downtrodden about “all the snow” that we get. Chicago’s greatest gift to the world, however, came in 1994 with the birth of a little band called Wilco.
Barrence Whitfield is the rare vocalist
that comes around as infrequently as a December hurricane, with the same
power and surprise. But Whitfield will tell you himself that a frontman
is nothing without the right backing, and the best foil for the
frenetic vocalist has always been guitarist Peter Greenberg.
Austin, Texas, Electro Pop trio Sphynx
makes magnetic, jubilant noise — ’80s-tinted but also rooted in
contemporary sounds like EDM and Indie Pop. Like a mix of Chromeo and
MGMT at their grooviest, Sphynx’s music is a call to the cool kids to
put down their phones and get on the dance floor. And the heartfelt and
non-mechanical vibe makes it infectious and accessible enough to
Punk was always intended to be fast,
loose and fleeting; The Ramones didn’t have a pension plan. Neil Young
wasn’t wrong when he noted that it’s better to burn out than to fade
away and yet, for every band like The Sex Pistols that existed for a
moment in the sun, there’s a band like SoCal’s Strung Out, with an
amazingly long history and a potent catalog to back it up.
Joy Division was indisputably one of the
finest names to emerge as a hugely influential entity in Post Punk and,
retroactively, Indie Rock, but the group’s stellar run only lasted only
four years. In that
first project’s wake, Joy Division’s remaining personnel formed New
Order, but hearing a full-on Joy Division set from an authentic source
wasn’t particularly viable.That is until Joy Division bassist (and
former New Order member) Peter Hook started plotting Joy Division
As invigoratingly honest Americana continues to blossom amid the musical banalities of Modern
Country like a desert rose, it brings with it a new phenomenon: the
“No-Hit Wonder,” those troubadours whose
grittily propulsive, slyly smart songs just can’t get commercial Country
airplay. It is to them that Cory Branan has dedicated the title song
of his latest album, The No-Hit Wonder.
It hardly seems possible that next year
marks the 25th anniversary of the meeting of guitarists Ryan Miller and
Adam Gardner and percussionist Brian Rosenworcel, freshmen at Tufts
University who turned their dorm room songwriting hobby into a quarter
century of Alt Rock/Folk Pop wonder as Guster.
In the Ska/Punk canon, no titan stands mightier than 1989’s Energy,
the only album from Operation Ivy. But in 1996, Detroit outfit The
Suicide Machines came close to matching that shooting star’s power and
prowess with their first album, Destruction By Definition.
If my family should ever disown me and
I’m forced to find a new one, I would start by begging Loudon Wainwright
III to adopt me. Talent seems to spew from his every orifice and I want
a piece of it. He already gave his envy-worthy genes to three
incredibly talented musicians — Rufus and Martha Wainwright and Lucy
Wainwright Roche. Roche, in my estimate, got the lion’s share of that
While there is now a genre of music
officially called Americana — a category that can either be
characterized as full of diverse artists who aren’t afraid of mixing
Roots music in with their sound or as a way to promote and market
artists who can’t get on Country radio — there is still an unfortunate
desire to drag artists like Liz Longley into the Country music miasma.
You could glean a great deal about
singer/songwriter Drew Holcomb and his wife/bandmate/occasional
co-writer Ellie from the fact that they named their first child Emmylou.
The Holcombs’ daughter arrived almost simultaneously with Drew Holcomb
& The Neighbors’ 2013 album Good Light, a set that was
ecstatically received by the band’s zealous fan base and positively
reviewed by an increasingly jaded coterie of music critics.
Colleen Green’s third full-length (and first album recorded in an actual recording studio) is titled I Want to Grow Up, which is no coincidence. Well, that is if you equate a glossier sound and trying to kick coffee and weed as growing up.
Very few bands have successfully
incorporated as many genres and directions into their groovy,
improvisation-heavy Jam Band presentation as Lotus. For the past 16
years, the Philadelphia-based quintet has carved out a niche within the
admittedly open and accepting Jam community with a fascinating
combination of late ’90s Pop Rock, gadgety Electronica, noodly Fusion,
raise-the-roof Funk, reflective Chillwave and positive Hip Hop.